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PR FACT SHEET ON SMALL BUSINESSES

Release Date: 5/23/96
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PR FACT SHEET ON SMALL BUSINESSES

THURSDAY, MAY 23, 1996

FINAL POLICY ON COMPLIANCE INCENTIVES FOR SMALL BUSINESSES

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Fact Sheet

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE

    This policy is intended to promote environmental compliance among small businesses by providing incentives to participate in compliance assistance programs, conduct environmental audits and promptly correct violations.
    It is one of the 25 regulatory reform initiatives announced by President Clinton on March 16, 1995, and implements, in part, the Executive Memorandum on Regulatory Reform, issued on April 21, 1995.
    This policy sets forth how U.S. EPA expects to exercise its enforcement discretion in deciding on an appropriate enforcement response and determining an appropriate civil penalty for violations by small businesses.
    This policy expands upon EPA's August 12, 1994 policy for Clean Air Act Section 507 Small Business Assistance Programs by applying the same principles to other environmental programs and supersedes the Interim Policy on Compliance Incentives for Small Businesses issued on June 13, 1995.
SCOPE OF POLICY
    For purposes of this policy, a small business is defined as a person, corporation, partnership, or other entity who employs 100 or fewer individuals across all facilities and operations owned by the entity.
CRITERIA FOR PENALTY ELIMINATION OR REDUCTION
    EPA will eliminate or reduce the civil penalty based on the criteria below:
      1. The small business has made a good faith effort to comply with applicable environmental requirements as demonstrated by either receiving on-site compliance assistance from a government or government supported program and the violations are detected during the compliance assistance and, in the case of confidential assistance programs, disclosing the violations to the appropriate regulatory agency, or b) conducting an environmental audit and promptly disclosing in writing to the appropriate regulatory agency all violations discovered as part of the environmental audit.
      2. First violation. In the past three years, the small business was not subject to an information request, warning letter, notice of violation, field citation, citizen suit or other enforcement action or received penalty mitigation pursuant to this Policy for the current violation and, in the past five years, has not been subject to two or more enforcement actions for violations of environmental requirements.
      3. The business corrects the violation and remedies any harm associated with the violation within six months of its discovery. Small businesses may have an additional six months, if necessary, to correct the violation if pollution prevention technologies will be used.
      4. The policy does not apply if: a) The violation has caused actual serious harm to public health, safety, or the environment; or

      b) The violation may present an imminent and substantial endangerment to public health or the environment; or

      c) The violation presents a significant health, safety, or environmental threat.

      d) The violation involves criminal conduct.

      PENALTY MITIGATION GUIDELINES
        If a small business satisfies all of the criteria, EPA will eliminate the entire civil penalty.
        If a small business meets all of the criteria, except it needs a longer corrections period than provided by criterion 3, EPA will waive up to 10012f the gravity component of the penalty, but may seek the full amount of any economic benefit associated with the violations.
      APPLICABILITY TO STATES
        EPA will defer to State actions that are generally consistent with this policy.
      EFFECTIVE DATE
        This Policy is effective (insert date one month after date of a signature)
      Contacts: Karin Leff at 202 564-7068 or David Hindin at 202 564-6004

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